MOOD SWINGS

I once heard a man at a 12-step meeting say that even after he achieved sobriety, he still had problems.  It is important for me to remember that recovery from depression is not a “get out of jail free card” for dealing with life.

I am still surprised and disappointed when I feel irritable or annoyed or just in a bad mood.  I mistakenly assumed that becoming less depressed equaled happiness every day.  Such is not the case.

I feel grumpy today.  As a poor, light sleeper, I rarely wake up refreshed and rested.  I awake much too early-around 4:30 AM, and am angry that another night passed with my being restless, getting up too often to use the bathroom, and generally restless and either too hot or too cold.  What am I supposed to do three hours before sunrise?

I have a book I could read, but don’t feel like making the effort to concentrate on the contents.  So, I eliminate that option.  I am hungry, as I always am when I wake too early, and decide to eat something.  I make a cup of decaf coffee, and consume a low-calorie bag of Slim-Fast treats.  Those things keep me satisfied for the moment.

I plan on walking around my neighborhood when the sky turns light, but, alas the time when there is any visibility is hours away.  So, I toss and turn and try to be content in bed.  But the blankets won’t stay straight, and I keep punching the pillows to make them more comfortable.  Ultimately, I decide to turn on my heating back to soothe my ever-present back pain.  That helps for a while.

Finally, light peeks through my curtains, and I can get up, put on my sweats and take a short walk.  I know I am complaining a lot, but here goes with another one of my issues.  Feeling somewhat agoraphobic, I don’t really like being outside.  I feel exposed and unsafe, even in my very safe neighborhood.  I may encounter neighbors to whom I feel obliged to greet with soft-spoken “good mornings.”  I can’t wait to return home.

If I were a feline, I would be an indoor cat.   But as a human being, I have to accept the reality that my moods are not always cheery, and that a bad mood does not mean I am depressed again.  Acceptance of all of our feelings is a sustainable way of living.

MOOD SWINGS

I once heard a man at a 12-step meeting say that even after he achieved sobriety, he still had problems.  It is important for me to remember that recovery from depression is not a “get out of jail free card” for dealing with life.

I am still surprised and disappointed when I feel irritable or annoyed or just in a bad mood.  I mistakenly assumed that becoming less depressed equaled happiness every day.  Such is not the case.

I feel grumpy today.  As a poor, light sleeper, I rarely wake up refreshed and rested.  I awake much too early-around 4:30 AM, and am angry that another night passed with my being restless, getting up too often to use the bathroom, and generally restless and either too hot or too cold.  What am I supposed to do three hours before sunrise?

I have a book I could read, but don’t feel like making the effort to concentrate on the contents.  So, I eliminate that option.  I am hungry, as I always am when I wake too early, and decide to eat something.  I make a cup of decaf coffee, and consume a low-calorie bag of Slim-Fast treats.  Those things keep me satisfied for the moment.

I plan on walking around my neighborhood when the sky turns light, but, alas the time when there is any visibility is hours away.  So, I toss and turn and try to be content in bed.  But the blankets won’t stay straight, and I keep punching the pillows to make them more comfortable.  Ultimately, I decide to turn on my heating back to soothe my ever-present back pain.  That helps for a while.

Finally, light peeks through my curtains, and I can get up, put on my sweats and take a short walk.  I know I am complaining a lot, but here goes with another one of my issues.  Feeling somewhat agoraphobic, I don’t really like being outside.  I feel exposed and unsafe, even in my very safe neighborhood.  I may encounter neighbors to whom I feel obliged to greet with soft-spoken “good mornings.”  I can’t wait to return home.

If I were a feline, I would be an indoor cat.   But as a human being, I have to accept the reality that my moods are not always cheery, and that a bad mood does not mean I am depressed again.  Acceptance of all of our feelings is a sustainable way of living.

PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE

I used to like and even treasure my time alone.  I was free from the pressure of having to communicate and be entertaining to other people.  I always felt I had to perform, and hide my real self and feelings.  So, time alone felt safe.

But something in me has changed.  The reasons for now wanting to be around other people are the result of recent life events.  First, when I was severely depressed, I isolated myself, and didn’t even answer the phone or my doorbell.  I was alone with my darkest fears and despair.  That way of coping led me into the hospital for treatment of severe depression.

One thing I observed while being in that locked unit was that sharing the space with other patients lessened my anxiety.  I was no longer alone.  Talking to, and eating with other people somewhat mitigated my crushing feelings of being alone in the world.

I didn’t get cured in the hospital, I just stayed safe, and had a break from being at home.  My real progress began when I participated in an outpatient day-treatment program.  There, in a supportive setting, I was in groups with others suffering the same or different problems.

I developed friendships, ate lunch with my new acquaintances, and depended on their company for my survival.  We shared pictures of our families, stories of our histories, and grew close to each other.  I looked forward to the days I attended the program.

But, alas, my insurance said it was time to leave the program.  I had and have separation anxiety as I am alone again, missing my new friends.  I always have hated good-byes.

Today is my first day without a plan, or people around me.  I wish I were more involved in social activities, and not so frightened of being with others.  I have to change my survival strategy to ward off another depression.  I am working on planning my days to include social interactions, including discussion groups and yoga. I will accept more invitations.  And I must remember to stop trying so hard to be liked and accepted, and let my real self shine through.

For the first time in many years, I am a person who needs people.

 

 

It Is Still Legal

I am a bit buzzed while writing today.  No, I didn’t ingest any illegal substances, but I did indulge in caffeine this morning.  When I went to the Starbucks at Barnes & Noble I was all set to order my usual decaffeinated Frapaccino(sp?)  when I decided to go for the real coffee in my iced drink instead.

I wasn’t tired due to the loss of an hour’s sleep, or feeling low.  I just wanted to “get high” on a still-legal option.  Mission accomplished.  When I returned home, I had plenty of energy-enough to do the laundry, clean my condo a little, and pay some bills.  Now, after 2 PM, I am still wired with not much to do this afternoon.

I sort of wish I had someplace to go or someone to meet to make use of my good mood. But, alas, I am home alone as usual, and not terribly unhappy.  I signed up to attend a writers’ conference in May, but my payment got all messed up and the registration didn’t go through.  But, still in my caffeine-induced cheery mood, I didn’t even get upset.

Coffee used to make me feel uncomfortably agitated and on edge, and for years I stuck to decaf java and soft drinks.  I was actually afraid of the real thing.  But these days, when I need a little boost or just want to feel happier than normal, I order regular coffee in the morning, and may opt for a Coke Zero mid-day.

I am really glad this sort-of-drug is still legal